When I first met Gil Schaenzle this past September, I was immediately struck by her positive demeanor and lovely smile. I was meeting a woman who had lost her daughter six months ealier, and that was after just nine months of frustrating and devastating twists and turns following Anna Rose's diagnosis of a high grade neuroendocrine tumor.
I understand the roller coaster as a NET patient, and I understand what it feels like to be a Mom to two daughers. I had no idea what it felt like to lose one's only child. It was astonishing to me to greet this warm and compassionate woman and have her want to hear MY story, as well as being willing to talk about her story as a caregiver to her belowed daughter. When she told me what a warrior Anna Rose was, I could not help thinking, "she had some good mama warrior training".
Backtrack to when Gil first emailed me about her idea to run in the National Parks in memory of Anna Rose, and to raise awareness about NET cancer--I cried. Tears are underrated, by the way. I think they are very healing. Being willing to publicly share your grief, greet strangers on a trail in the wilderness, and go on NATIONAL TV to talk about your loss as well as hope for other NET cancer patients...well that is also healing, but it takes guts. Gil is a mama warrior.
There is great healing and power in telling your story, and the tears that fall and the joy that is remembered. If you are a NET patient you get it when another patient tells their story--there are parts that resonate with you and assure you that you are not alone. If you are a NET caregiver, you know tears are going to come now and then, and you understand the worries and frustrations and, again, you are reminded you are not alone. If you are family or friends, it's harder to understand but love and compassion help you deal with the uncertainty, and hearing the stories affirms, again, that you are not alone. If you have never heard of NET cancer before but listen to the story of a mama warrior who transcends her own grief to make a difference for other NET patients, you surely can't help but feel connected in some way.
In telling our stories, hearing the stories, and sharing the stories, we connect and harness an incredible power for hope and healing. Our website has a place where you can TELL YOUR STORY.
I encourage you to FOLLOW Gil and her journey over the course of the next year, and tell and share your own stories. You never know who may be connected with that power of hope and healing.